And he spoke this parable to them, saying,…
Of these three parables, illustrative of the grace of Christ shown to lost human souls, the first brings into view -
I. THE GREAT FOOLISHNESS OF THE WANDERING SOUL. It goes from God as a foolish sheep strays from the fold. So doing, it leaves security for peril. In the fold is safety; in the wilderness are many and serious dangers. At home with God the soul is perfectly safe from harm; its life, its liberty, its happiness, is secure; but, apart and astray from God, all these arc not only gravely imperilled, they are already forfeited. It also leaves plenty for want. In the fold is good pasture; in the wilderness is scarcity of food and water. With God is rich provision for the spirit's need, not only satisfying its wants, but ministering to its best and purest tastes; at a moral distance from him the spirit pines and withers. To go from God is an act of uttermost folly.
II. THE STRAITS TO WHICH IT IS REDUCED.
1. It is on the point of perishing. Without the interposition of the seeking Shepherd, it would inevitably perish.
2. It is reduced to such utter helplessness that it has to be carried home, "laid upon his shoulders."
(1) Under the dominion of sin the soul draws nearer and nearer to spiritual destruction; and
(2) it is often found to be reduced to so low a state that it can put forth no effort of its own, and can only be carried in the strong arms of love.
III. THE LOVE OF THE DIVINE SHEPHERD. The strong and keen interest taken by the human shepherd in a lost sheep is indicative of the tender interest which the Father of our spirits takes in a lost human soul. The former is more occupied in his thought and care with the one that is lost than he is, for the time, with the others that are safe; the latter is really and deeply concerned for the restoration of his lost child. And as the shepherd's sorrow leads him to go forth and search, so does the Father's tender care lead him to seek for his absent son. Christ's love for us is not general, it is particular; it reaches every one of us. He cares much that each one of the souls for whom he suffered should enjoy his true heritage, and when that is being lost he desires and he "seeks" to restore it.
IV. HIS PERSISTENCY IN SEEKING. "Until he find it." The shepherd, in pursuit of the lost sheep, is not detained by difficulty or danger; nor does he allow distance to stop his search; he goes on seeking until he finds. With such gracious persistency does the Saviour follow the wandering soul; year after year, period after period in his life, through several spiritual stages, the good Shepherd pursues the erring soul with patient love, until he finds it.
V. HIS JOY IN FINDING IT. The shepherd's joy in finding and in recovering, shown by calling his friends and neighbours together, saying, "Rejoice with me," etc., is pictorial of the Saviour's joy when a soul is redeemed from sin and enters into the life which is eternal. He rejoices not only, not chiefly, because therein does he "see of the travail of his soul," but because he knows well from what depth of evil that soul has been rescued, and to what height of blessedness it has been restored; he knows also how great is the influence, through all ages, which one loyal and loving human spirit will exert on other souls. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And he spake this parable unto them, saying,